2023 Virginia General Assembly session set to open

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 7:29 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia lawmakers have converged on the State Capitol for the 2023 General Assembly session, beginning Wednesday, January 11.

The session will see deep divisions on hot-button issues, but it also promises bipartisan cooperation in other important areas.

The budget priorities Governor Youngkin outlined in a series of campaign-style events across the state will serve as a starting point on issues including tax relief, energy, education and economic development. And he’s urging lawmakers to do it all.

“The reality is you can’t pick and choose,” Youngkin said during a visit to Salem last week. “There’s no silver bullet and there’s a real opportunity for us to change so much at the same time and take a big step function forward, so I’m challenging our entire legislature to go to work on all of it and deliver all of it.”

Lawmakers will have their own priorities, and in a divided legislature they are sure to clash on high-profile issues,

“We have a brick wall as we call ourselves on the Democratic side,” Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas said recently.

Lucas promises to hold the line against Republican efforts to impose abortion restrictions and roll back many criminal justice reforms. But there is one issue where she believes Democrats and Republicans can make major progress together. And that is improving Virginia’s mental health system.

“That’s an issue that has captured the hearts and the souls of people all across the Commonwealth and of course all across this nation, because a lot of what we see with this gun violence is attached to people who have mental illness, and who have mental health issues,” Lucas said. “And so I see that as the one issue that may bring both sides together to work in harmony, because we certainly need to do something about mental health in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

All of this will play out against the backdrop of an election year, in which all seats in the legislature will be on the November ballot.